Connecting the dots is something Mereth Meade has begun to do later in life, realizing that her passions throughout her lifetime seem to have much to do with nurturing, whether it be people, withered plants or fresh ideas for recycling used items.
As a graduate of Smith College with a Masters in Nursing from Yale, Mereth recalls focusing on "the patient as a person," a concept that has stuck with her. Her positions over the years ranged from school nurse to nursing in a doctor's office and in a hospital, a visiting nurse, an instructor at Emily Griffith Opportunity School in Denver, and a clinical instructor in different hospitals.
As a public health nurse, she would be dispatched to homes by the nursing association to size up situations and do well-baby checkups in Falmouth, MA. It was there that she had her third child, insisting on natural childbirth despite her obstetrician's bias against it. "He was interested enough in natural birth that he stood at my bedside through the entire labor," she recalled. "After becoming a believer, this physician allowed me to coach patients that wanted natural childbirth, while the hospital and pediatrician allowed me to help patients to successful lactation."
After participating in the Master Gardener program in Denver she operated an interior plantscaping business. In that capacity she nurtured nature and cultivated "green thumbs" on others who relocated to our high altitude, considering her services to be "horticultural therapy." Her background in public nursing helped her size up a person's needs when being uprooted from another part of the country and transplanted to Evergreen, integrating her knowledge of plants with her desire to help others.
In the late 1990s she became interested in the concept of recycling. An article in The Denver Post had referred to it as a "stupid idea," prompting her to attend a meeting of the Colorado Association For Recycling (CAFR). Attendees were asked to bring along an example, and hers was a tall chianti bottle – something the local recycling company would not accept because it was brown glass. She ended up enlisting the support of four bankers in town to subsidize the cost of full-glass recycling (all colors) and changing the policy in Evergreen.
She was a member of Mountain Recyclers, which for five years supplied volunteers every Thursday to clean up the recycling center at King Soopers in Bergen Park "because people left a mess" on the three days when the center was not staffed.
Her interest in recycling led to her encouraging the Evergreen Rotary Club to start Hard to Recycle Days in 2007, which later became known as the Fall Festival. The annual effort collects such things as paint, batteries, appliances, electronics, tires, scrap metal and styrofoam – things that indeed are difficult for the average homeowner to dispose of. They even have a vendor for shredding.
She is responsible for getting secure recycling containers into the Evergreen Post Office. "They were free to the Post Office if they applied for them," she noted, saying the Postmaster was happy to oblige once prompted.
She started Project Earth as part of Rotary International's Preserve Planet Earth project. And she was one of six Rotarians instrumental in starting Evergreen's Alliance for Sustainability (EAS+Y because You make it Easy), an effort to spread the concept of recycling into the community. She's served on the board of EAS+Y, recently retiring due to term limits. But the group has decided to create a board of advisors to keep her involved.
Composting and promoting the concept of a community garden have also been on her list of involvements.
Earlier this month, Mereth was presented with a Lifetime Volunteer Award by CAFR, which also announced that it will hereafter present the annual volunteer award in her name, calling it the Mereth Meade Award.
With roots in Switzerland, she's traveled a lot, growing up in Norman, Oklahoma, where her father was a professor at the University of Oklahoma. After marrying her husband, Bob, his job researching big rivers and other bodies of water took them to Woods Hole, MA; Antarctica; Russia; South America; and Finland prior to settling in Evergreen in 1975 when he accepted a job with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Lakewood.
(Photo by Carolyn Alexander)